The Next Chapter

It’s funny how things always work out. And that’s not just my rosy optimism speaking. Pray, stay faithful, look for signs that point you in the right direction and you find that even through rough times, God’s plan makes itself apparent. It’s true. We’re proof.

Most of you know that last summer Blake and I bought a gym. Blake left his career as a chef to be a gym owner and operator. We were blessed with what appeared to be an amazing opportunity – more time with family, Blake doing something he enjoyed, the chance for him to be his own boss. So many positives. Blake jumped in with enthusiasm and determination. Things started off great – we made some improvements to the gym, increased membership and made a lot of friends in the process. We saw ourselves in it for the long haul.

But over the last few months the growth waned and the gym was not as profitable as we hoped it would be, especially at the first of the year, a time when most gyms are at their peak. We asked ourselves a tough question – did we think the gym would be able to support our family financially long term. It was a tough call.

Then there were the changing family dynamics with the addition of our daughter. Coming from the restaurant business, where Blake worked most nights and every weekend, the gym schedule was an improvement. However, it still meant he wasn’t home three nights a week. And while that was a schedule I had gotten used to with the boys, caring for an infant made it much, much tougher. I entered into “survival mode” each night Blake wasn’t home and to be honest the stress was pretty intense.

One of the things I love about Blake is his commitment to not settle and not get comfortable with the status quo. When he sees things aren’t what they should be, he acts. And so after lots and lots and lots of prayer, we decided that continuing with the gym was not in our family’s best interest. We were lucky to have purchased the gym from two great people who have worked with us this whole time and who will be operating the gym once again. It will be an easy transition, and we are so blessed to have done business with good people who ultimately want to see the gym succeed, even if we are no longer involved. It could be easy to look at this venture as a failure for us because this was not the outcome we expected, but that’s not how we see it at all. I actually see it as a blessing. Tough times can make you or break you, and this season has strengthened us. It has made our marriage stronger and brought us closer to God. Funny thing, huh. It has reaffirmed to Blake just how important it is to be able to provide for his family and has given him the perspective to appreciate what it means to get a steady paycheck. Sometimes it’s hard to find happiness unless you’ve really seen all that the other side of the fence has to offer.

So what’s next. That’s where it gets exciting. In addition to trying to figure out what to do with the gym, Blake also had to ask himself what career would make him happy and allow him the chance to put his family first. And I’m happy to report that with a lot of prayer and faithfulness, Blake has yet another great opportunity. Blake will be going back into the food industry, but this time he’ll be the Food Service Director for a private school – where they only serve lunch. He’ll be back in the kitchen, but this time he’ll be home before 5pm, and won’t have to work weekends either. He’ll be able to coach the kids in sports too, which is something else he’s really passionate about. It’s pretty much a dream job.

So here we go, the next chapter in our lives. We’re excited, we’re grateful and we’re humbled by all of the blessings we’ve been given. Once again, it’s not the path we saw ourselves on, but it’s the one we’re meant to be on. God is so good!

Jess and Blake

Putting Family First

Tonight I enjoyed the first Sunday since October with the boys and Blake. You see, when Blake took his latest job to be a restaurant chef, the trade-off was that three nights during the week and all weekend he’d be working. To say it has been tough would be an understatement. But, the life as the wife of a chef is just that – it’s tough. Many times you take a back seat to a career that is long hours, fast-paced and high-stress. Nine years ago when we met, Blake worked in a kitchen, and so I knew what I signed up for when we started dating, when we got engaged and when we married. Before we had kids, it was lonely, but manageable. Now that we have two boys, it can be downright exhausting to do so much of it on my own. And while I haven’t always shown as much support as I should, when he took this job the first of November last year, I finally became the supportive wife that I always wanted / tried (and failed) to be.

And then a couple of weeks ago, Blake came to me and said he was re-prioritizing his life. He told me that he no longer wanted to pursue a career that kept him away from his family. He told me he wanted to quit his job. And while I can imagine that this sort of news could be stressful, I was truly overjoyed. Because while I would have never tried to make Blake quit doing what he loved, there have been many times that I secretly wished he had a career that kept him home more. I worried about the future when the boys play sports and Blake wouldn’t be there for games; or weeknight homework, or school plays, or the countless other wonderful experiences of being parents that he would miss. And so here I was, getting my prayers answered. While I always knew deep down that the boys and I were Blake’s first priority, the fact that he was choosing us, without being made to, was the ultimate affirmation.

So what does this mean… we’re not sure yet. In the short-term, Blake is still working for the same restaurant, but in a role that has him working days and home on Sundays.  We’re excited to be exploring opportunities outside of the restaurant business and I know there are great things ahead for him. And I know that he is looking forward to a life with more balance – me too.

So today, on our first Sunday spent as a family in four months, we went to the park together, we had a picnic together, we ate dinner together, did the bathtime and the bedtime routines together.  It was perfect. I am so thankful to have a husband who has the courage to go against the grain, do what is uncomfortable and unconventional and just stop. Stop a successful career for something far more important. For us. I love you, babe.

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